Chester & Return

Chester or Ellesmere and return from Anderton Marina 


Day 1


It’s 7.45 am and everyone is up and very excited about our coming trip! Joining us on our journey along the waterways is my husband Simon, our son, daughter, and her best friend. Simon, my husband makes a last trip to Tesco to get provisions for the first night and day of our holiday – the workings for a full English breakfast and little snacks for the kids. 

We finally set off around, hoping to get to Anderton marina (fairly near Manchester) around 1.30 pm.  

Our lovely booking officer is there to greet us, though  our boat is not quite ready yet so we wander down to have a look at the Anderton Boat Lift, only about 5 minute’s walk away. What a magnificent feat of engineering! The boat is ready, so we head back to the Marina. The girls are amazed by their twin room and the fact that they have a bathroom of their own, our son Stuart is amazed he’s having a double bed all to himself, and I am amazed and very thankful that the kitchen is great. Full sized cooker with grill, every utensil you could want – even down to egg cups and a toast rack. A microwave and a toaster even! 

We are unpacked – I jump off and ask a couple of engineers if they could talk us through the boat. Simon and I have been canal boating before but every boat is different, and this is the first time we will have to ‘convert’ the dining area into a bedroom – I want to know how to do it. Now to decidewho is going to drive out of the marina…Stuart it is – off we go.

Turning left out of the marina a heron sits watching us and it’s as if he is seeing us off. It’s about 3 hours cruising to Middlewich, which is where we are planning to spend our first night. Our planned route is Chester and return – about 32 hours cruising and 44 locks there and back.

Such lovely countryside – herons, ducks, swallows, rabbits – all can be seen on this stretch.

Onwards to more beautiful countryside – very calm and still – we have yet to pass a boat. We pass natural reservoirs caused by subsidence in the canal, you can tell when we are approaching Middlewich.

Day 2


Simon and I are up at 6am. Looking at the map (Nicholson’s Guide number 4) we are planning to get as far as Barbridge junction today or perhaps a bit further and it is an isolated spot, so we will be eating on board today. We calculate it will take us about 5 6- hours cruising to reach this spot – count up the miles you want to travel, add the number of locks and divide by 3 – this will give you the number of hours it should take you.

The canal is starting to look a little busier – a few boats have passed us earlier – but we do not have to  queue at all for the first 3 locks. Just a short time later and another boat comes down and out and we take its place. It’s always a good idea to send someone ahead to check for oncoming boats – apart from anything else, canal etiquette for example, it saves both time and water!

We are now on the Shropshire Union canal, Middlewhich branch. It is beautiful cruising, we all take turns at steering the boat.

Along this stretch there is plenty to see, beautiful wooded canal banks, in places the canal becomes so wide it looks more like a river, flat green fields full of cows and the unique ‘smell’ of the country which I love.. The ‘Aqueduct Marina’ is the largest and the first one you come to.

Very shortly after this marina is Minshull lock. There are a couple of very heavy showers but then bright hot sunshine again.

We now come to the second marina, ‘Venetian Marina’ is smaller than the Aqueduct Marina and there is a lock here too, Cholmondeston.

We travel on through the lock and moored up just on the other side, is a small motor cruiser.

We carry on, not far to the junction now and no more excitement for the time being. It is getting later now, we have not passed a boat for a while. We cruise for about 10 minutes until the sound of the A31 has diminished and start to pass a lot of moored boats and no spaces. Help!

We eventually  find a space

We moor up. Time for dinner.

Day 3


Today is Chester day! Simon and I wake up early again, but as predicted we slept much, much better and are very well rested and happy. The sun is shining again and I predict it is going to be a glorious day.

The plan tonight is to moor up at Christleton and then Tuesday morning go on into Chester. We set off and before we know it, are at Bunbury staircase lock. This is going to be quite scary as we have never experienced one of these before! As we draw closer we spy “Brent Goose”, one of ABC Boat Hire’s Alvechurch fleet. Like our boat but an eight berth so slightly longer. We float on through into the lock and in no time at all we are through.

We now come to a stretch of lovely winding canal before Tilstone lockv. The next lock is Beeston Stone lock.

We’ve been advised by an oncoming boat that the next one, Beeston Iron lock should only take one boat at a time despite it being a broad lock, the reason being that there are shards of metal sticking out and if 2 boats go through, one might get ‘caught’.

Finally, finally the rain stops and we begin to approach civilisation – more houses start to appear – you can see Waverton church towerv, and we start to get quite excited because a glimpse of sun has been spotted. We are suddenly on the very outskirts of Chester and therefore near Christleton. Do you know how we could tell? The houses! Suddenly on our right are virtual mansions with great sweeping gardens down to the water’s edge fringed with weeping willow trees. Absolutely stunning.

We cruise along slowly, then it’s time to go out for tea. The Harvester is very busy for a Monday, so we get a drink and take it outside to sit where the sun is now bright and hot again, very peculiar weather, but this is Britain after all.

Day 4


Simon and I have a lie in until nearly 7.30 today, but the kids are still asleep. The sun is out again, and we sit on the front again enjoying the view. About an hour later, we are on our way properly. There are 5 broad locks to go through to Chester town centre, and not much cruising between locks. The first is Christleton which we do on our own.

We are going very, very slowly now because we know the last turning point we come to is just before bridge 123E. BE WARNED, it comes up very quickly and the turning point is directly in front of this bridge.

A little stop for a rest and we walk into town, turn left at the bridge, and in literally 2 minutes you are right in the town centre. Oh my goodness, Chester is quite the place to be if you like shopping. We have the poshest restaurants known to man – Carluccios’.

Time for showers again and it’s off out, still pouring with rain.




Day 5


Croissants for breakfast today and it is my birthday so cards and a couple of presents too.

We manage to turn the boat today with no trouble whatsoever. We have both re-studied the British Waterways Boater’s Handbook and are confident and ready and everything goes according to plan. We remember to get water just after Hoole Lane Lock and we are on our way.

Return Journey


I am not going to bore you all with the details of the return journey – what I would say is that return routes are pretty good because going back you pass things at a different time of day and therefore get a different perspective and viewpoint. The locks were pretty much the same.

We remembered to get water before mooring up at Middlewhich and we remembered to book ahead for ‘The Big Lock pub’, which turned out to be sublime.

And finally on Saturday morning, we cruised into Anderton and the same Heron was waiting to greet us – a great way to end our travels.

If you are interested in booking one of our boats for a canal boat holiday yourself, get in touch with a member of our helpful team today.  

Marina: Anderton Boat: Thrush |  Blog written by Becky, Worcester Booking Office.

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